Stocks, currencies, oil and China data in focus
South Korea's benchmark Kospi index gained 0.92 percent to close at 2,515.38, with gains seen in steelmakers, automakers and and oil-related stocks. Technology names were mixed.
Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 edged higher by 0.49 percent to 5,982.70 as the utilities and heavily weighted financials subindexes advanced, canceling out slight declines in the materials and energy sectors.
MSCI's broad index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan was up 1.07 percent in Asia trade.
Meanwhile, markets in Japan and mainland China were closed on Monday.
The moves higher in the region came on the back of U.S. stocks finishing the Friday session little changed despite strong earnings as technology shares pulled back.
First-quarter earnings stateside have been robust: Almost 80 percent of the 276 S&P 500 companies that had reported as of Friday beat expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Earnings from the first quarter are estimated to increase 24.6 percent compared to one year ago.
U.S. stock index futures made tentative gains during early Asian trade, with Dow Jones industrial average futures last trading higher by 75 points.
Markets in Asia had closed higher in the prior session as investors digested a historic inter-Korea summit, which saw leaders of North and South Korea pledge to achieve peace.
Sentiment was buoyed by developments on the Korean Peninsula, but "the devil is in the details (or nuclear disarmament) and economic impact may be slow to follow," Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy and Mizuho Bank, said in a morning note.
Fading geopolitical tensions following last week's meeting also saw the Korean won firm on Monday. The currency last traded at 1,066.96 to the dollar.
In corporate news, Australia's AMP on Monday said its chairwoman, Catherine Brenner, had resigned from the position, days after the departure of Craig Meller, its chief executive. The announcement came amid an inquiry into the country's financial sector. AMP shares closed higher by 0.5 percent.
Elsewhere, shares of BYD listed in Hong Kong were down 5.68 percent by 3:04 p.m. HK/SIN after the automaker said it expects first-half profit to fall as much as 83 percent following a reduction in subsidies.
South Korean construction company Hyundai Engineering & Construction popped 26.19 percent amid gains seen in other names in the sector. Train manufacturers also got a boost, according to Reuters, following last week's inter-Korean summit on optimism over potential "economic projects."
The dollar was steady after the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note slipped below the 3 percent level it breached earlier last week.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded at 91.525 at 2:51 p.m. HK/SIN. Against the yen, the dollar was little changed at 109.18.
Oil prices were lower after declining slightly on Friday as investors waited for signs on whether the U.S. would reimpose sanctions on Iran and digested the increase in U.S. rig count.
Still, prices remained close to their highest levels in more than three years: Brent crude futures shed 0.64 percent to trade at $74.16 per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate eased 0.43 percent to $67.81.
Economic data released on Monday included China official Purchasing Managers' Index data. The official manufacturing PMI for April came in at 51.4, topping expectations of 51.3, but below the 51.5 seen in March, Reuters said. The official services PMI came in at 54.8, above last month's reading of 54.6.
focus on merger news, earnings
Media stocks were the top performers on Monday, with WPP leading the sectoral gains. The advertising giant presented higher-than-expected net sales in the first quarter of the year, despite the exit of its founder Martin Sorrell. The stock jumped 8.6 percent.
Retail stocks also climbed following news that Asda and Sainsbury's will merge in a roughly £15 billion ($20.67 billion) deal. Sainsbury's shares were up by more than 14.5 percent. Competitor supermarket Tesco traded almost 1 percent lower. The former is set to lose its place as the U.K.'s largest grocer if the merger is approved by regulators.
Looking at individual stocks, Seb shares fell more than 4 percent. This was after the Swedish bank announced a drop in its first-quarter net profit.
In Italy, Telecom Italia chief Amos Genish said that his position in the firm would be "untenable" if activist fund Elliott gets the majority of the board seats during a shareholder vote Friday, Reuters reported. Separately, T-Mobile and Sprint said Sunday they had agreed on a $26 billion merger deal.
Is the greenback back?
Not a Scientific Survey. Results may not total 100% due to rounding.
In geopolitical news, Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, is set to invite U.S. experts and journalists to witness the shutdown of a nuclear site in May, Reuters reported.
Back in Europe, Germany, France and the U.K. have joined forces against potential new tariffs from the U.S. On Sunday, the three countries urged the U.S. administration to not apply metal tariffs to Europe. In March, President Donald Trump imposed a 25 percent duty on steel imports and a 10 percent duty on aluminum but Europe got a temporary exemption from the tariffs. Such an exemption is set to end on May 1.
In terms of data, German retail sales came in lower-than-expected on Monday morning. In March, sales fell 0.6 percent on the month in real terms, the Federal Statistics Office said. This was the fourth consecutive fall. Separately, German annual inflation slowed to 1.4 percent, down from 1.5 percent in the previous month, according to the government statistics body.
Dow closes more than 100 points lower, but ekes out small gain for April
The S&P 500 traded 0.6 percent lower, with telecom falling more than 2 percent to lead 10 of 11 sectors lower. The decline followed news Sunday that T-Mobile agreed to buy Sprint for $26.5 billion. Some analysts are skeptical the deal will get federal approval, and shares of both companies were trading sharply lower Monday.
The Dow Jones industrial average erased earlier gains of 187 points and traded 110 points lower as of 3:26 p.m. ET. Boeing contributed the most to declines, while McDonald's and Apple had the greatest positive impact. The iPhone maker is set to report earnings after the close Tuesday, while the fast food giant reported better-than-expected earnings Monday morning.
The Nasdaq composite traded 0.6 percent lower, weighed by declines in shares of Microsoft. The stock briefly fell more than 2.1 percent.
"People became a little too complacent last week," said Ilya Feygin, managing director and senior strategist at WallachBeth Capital. "The global economy has downshifted in the last few months and it's disappointed high expectations."
Logistics company Prologis is acquiring DCT Industrial Trust for $8.4 billion in an all-stock deal. DCT Industrial's shares popped more than 11.5 percent. Marriott Vacations, the hotel chain's timeshare business, is also buying rival ILG for $4.7 billion.
Meanwhile, shares of Andeavor jumped 13 percent after Marathon Petroleum agreed to acquire it for $23 billion.
"This is really a byproduct of the same source of better sentiment, which is government backing off," said Maris Ogg, president at Tower Bridge Advisors.
In earnings news, Botox-maker Allergan posted a better-than-expected profit for the previous quarter. McDonald's earnings also beat the Street, sending the Dow component 4.9 percent higher.
"I'm encouraged by the reaction to McDonald's earnings," said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA. She also said that several companies have seen their stocks initially rise and then fall after reporting better-than-expected earnings. "For the most part, it seems like investors are taking advantage of any pop in stocks to take profits," she said.
Bell added, however, this earnings season has been strong. Of the S&P 500 companies that have reported through Monday morning, 79.3 percent have reported stronger-than-forecast earnings, according to FactSet. More than 100 S&P 500 companies are scheduled to report earnings this week, including Apple and Mondelez International.
In economic news, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index posted last month its biggest year-over-year gain since February 2017. The so-called core PCE — which strips out food and energy — jumped 1.9 percent through March. The core PCE is the Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation.
The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield briefly fell to its lowest since April 20, while the 2-year yield traded near 2.5 percent. The U.S. dollar index rose slightly.